We walked to the start of the race this morning. It was cold and damp, and when we got there the ground was muddy. Pinning race numbers on to t-shirts seemed complicated today – next time we’ll add a practice session to the training schedule. I dropped my phone in the mud while waiting in the toilet queue. As we doubled over giggling at our incompetence, the race seemed destined to be the usual farcical mix of laughing and coming last.
We ran around the field, squelching and sliding in the wake of 1000 other runners. We passed the 1k marker in 7 minutes – making good time (for us!). Then came ‘the hill’ 100 metres of grassy bank, steep and slippery, and Lorraine (who lives in a flat place and apparently ‘never’ does any hill training) sped off up it, as I grabbed tufts of grass and tried desperately not to slide right back to the bottom.
At the top, the path narrowed through the woods, and we followed in single file, unable to pass anyone. There was lots of huffing and puffing after the hill, but eventually it levelled out and we were able to start running again. At the turning point, the path widened and the mud vanished, and I picked up my speed to catch Lorraine (she was wearing the most ludicrous dayglo top, so very easy to spot).
We coasted downhill (ish) for a while, until at 4k (4k!) a bicycle sped past, bells ringing, the rider shouting ‘make way for the leader!’ Lorraine sped up and for a while was level with him, grinning like a fool.
Two lap racers are always a bit painful for the slower runner. The leaders whizz past, and then peel off to the finish line, and you have to go round the entire loop AGAIN. How very unfair.
The hill wasn’t as bad the second time, and we were more spaced out, and even managed to overtake a few people through the woods. After the final turn, with 2.5k to go, we sped up, and even managed a bit of comedy fighting for the photographer (although I was tempted to ‘accidentally’ push Lorraine in the duck pond for real).
A few tiny bits of necessary walking, and we were rounding the corner to the finish line ourselves. Lorraine forged ahead (she always does that) and beat me by a mere five seconds. I finished in 1 hour, 16 minutes and 59 seconds – not my best time, but a long way off my worst, and not bad considering I’ve only run twice since May.
I’ve never seen such a giant medal. The photo doesn’t do it justice – it’s nearly as big as a face. I had to take it off after lunch as it was so heavy.
And that funny little tab just under the ribbon? Turns out the medal is also a bottle opener. How very cool.